Cultural Studies Paper on The Decline and Collapse of Western Roman Empire

The collapse of Western Roman Empire is often viewed by historians as the extinction of the ancient world. Although scholars and historians have in the past agreed on the year of the fall, these people have often cited different reasons for the fall. To illustrate, most of the historians mention the rise of Christianity and the invasion of the Barbarians as the main reasons why Western Rome collapsed.  Whatever the reason for the collapse, one major factor stands out in this discussion: the fall was only on the west as the east would continue operating for a number of centuries, and, in myriad ways, retained an exceptional Roman identity. For the record, the decline of the Western Roman Empire was primarily blamed on the mistakes made by the emperors, soldiers and the people. In like manner, America, a modern society has shown similar mistakes that led to the collapse of Western Rome. The collapse of Western Rome and current situation of America is indeed premised on declining strength of a nation making it difficult to exercise control and governance.

The invasion of the Barbarian tribes is arguably the main reason why Western Rome Empire collapsed. In particular, the western empire failed to withstand and curtail the immigration and invasion of the Barbarians. Many of the Barbarian tribes had sought for shelter in Western Rome due to Hun’s invasion of northern Europe (Arnason and Kurt 44). The Barbarian groups like the Goths further pushed many Germanic tribes towards the borders of the Roman Empire. In response, and due to pressure posed by external adversaries, the Romans made a tremendous mistake of allowing certain groups of Barbarians into Roman territory. The Romans further made the mistake of treating these groups with extreme cruelty including forceful trading of children by the starving Goths (Arnason and Kurt 48). In treating the Goths with intense cruelty, the Romans created dangerous enemies within their borders. Imminently, the oppression became unbearable for the Barbarians forcing them to stage revolts against the Romans ultimately paving the way for a series of military losses. The revolts weakened the Roman’s governance structures and the army making it difficult to fight and curtail external and internal threats leading to ultimate collapse.

The downfall of Western Empire is also linked to the spread of Christianity. In particular, Arnason and Kurt emphasizes that Christianity was legalized in 313 and later became a state religion by 380 (57). The introduction of Christianity and its ideals negatively impacted on the traditional Roman values. For example, Christianity eroded the polytheistic Roman religion that perceived the emperor as an individual with divine powers. Equally, Christianity discouraged the worship of local gods (Arnason and Kurt 58). Consequently, the displacement of polytheistic thinking shifted the focus from state glory to the deity of Christ. In the meantime, the pope and other church leaders participated in political affairs further making it difficult for emperors to govern. The considerable loss of political powers to church leaders reduced the influence of emperors to convince and govern the people. Hence, reduced political powers of the emperors contributed to the weakening of the political governance paving the way for the imminent fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The downfall of the Western Roman Empire closely compares to modern Western society, especially America. The American society has constantly made the mistake of allowing illegal immigrants into the country. In a similar manner that Western Rome allowed the Barbarians into the country making the empire ungovernable, America has relied on weak immigration policies and rules to make immigration decisions fundamentally granting illegal immigrants entry into the country. The illegal immigrants are responsible for most of the terrorist attacks like the September 11 and a series of drug peddling by the Mexicans within the American borders. Indeed, America is slowly creating dangerous enemies within its borders potentially paving the way for its failure. Eventually, America will experience difficulty dealing with its internal and external terrorist threats in a similar fashion to Western Rome’s inability to curtail local influences of Barbarians as well as the Germanic tribes. Nonetheless, efforts like building a border wall at the Mexican border as well as formulating strong immigration policies can help America avoid imminent collapse.

The fall of the Western Roman Empire resulted from the failure of the empire to enforce its rule. Specifically, the empire lost its strength and ability to exercise effective control. The incompetence demonstrated by the emperor in allowing immigrants then treating them with cruelty is one of the core reasons the empire collapsed. The pressure exerted by the Barbarians within the borders as well as religious changes of the period also paved the way for the collapse of the empire. The Western Roman Empire collapsed by 476 AD, and although its legitimacy lasted for many centuries, it is the lack of strength that made the empire to completely disappear never to rise again. The modern American society has made similar mistakes of allowing undocumented people into its borders facilitated by weak immigration policies and rules. Today, America is struggling to address terrorism and the drug peddling activities of undocumented people. Although America has shown signs of collapse, formulation of strong local and foreign policies can help the nation amicably address its internal and external threats.




Work Cited

Árnason, Jóhann, and Kurt, Raaflaub. The Roman Empire in Context: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.